Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

About Jayne S

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

Posts by Jayne S:

REVIEW:  Heart of the Dragon’s Realm by Karalynn Lee

REVIEW: Heart of the Dragon’s Realm by Karalynn Lee

“Princess Kimri is used to betrayal. Her brother sold her to a king in exchange for swords to defend his lands. King Tathan’s reputation is as fierce as that of his mountain kingdom–where dragons are said to guard the castle walls–but the realms are unstable enough without angering the mountain-king, so Kimri reluctantly agrees to the union.

When she arrives in Helsmont, the king promises her a year of courtship before marrying–or parting ways. Before long, Kimri thinks she may find comfort, and perhaps eventually love, with the stoic king.

But the realms are more unsettled than Kimri realizes, and she soon finds herself caught in the middle of a war between the kingdoms. Can she count on her betrothed to take her side? Or will his loyalty to his kingdom come before his loyalty to her?”

Dear Ms. Lee,

I think this novella suffers from being either too long or too short. If it had concentrated more on a few things and told them well, I would have been more satisfied. Or if it had been expanded enough to cover the many threads better, that would have worked too. As it is, there is too much that is attempted with only a few things that I found completely done.

heart-of-the-dragons-realmThe story and heroine have a “Warprize” feel. Kimri has been bartered off by her brother – so she thinks – in an arranged marriage with the legendary king of a mountainous neighboring kingdom. Bitter at her fate, Kimri leaves her brother and homeland and begins her journey to her new life. Once there, she discovers that Tathan, the King, isn’t a bad man and might even be someone she could come to like. Kimri also appreciates the country’s custom of a year long engagement and is relieved to discover that if she finds the place and the man don’t suit her, she won’t be held to the betrothal.

And so begins her discovery of her new country. Kimri finds the freedom allowed her here to wander at will and the lack of courtly ceremony to be refreshing. She always felt constrained in her homeland but learns that in Helsmont women can achieve much more – even becoming soldiers. Together with the Prince of a neighboring hostile land who was captured trying to kidnap Kimri during her initial journey, she gets to know the people of her new homeland and their different customs.This is the aspect of the book that worked best for me. I especially enjoyed her lessons in the native “sword dancing.” Kimri also matures a bit as she realizes that when she becomes Queen, she’ll have much more power and responsibilities than she would have had in any of the lowland countries including her birth place.

“But where’s the romance?” I wondered. Tathan is off here, there and everywhere but near Kimri until past the halfway point of the story. The enemy Prince is with Kimri more than her betrothed which lead me to question whom she’d end up with. Then just as the Kimri and Tathan get closer and I’m thinking I’m going to see their relationship shown, the third act begins and they’re separated. My doubts of the hero’s i.d. reared up again and my frustration increased. The final pairing isn’t a sure thing until way too late for me.

When Tathan’s POV never appeared, I knew there was something that was supposed to be hidden about him – something I kinda guessed anyway. The secret isn’t that hard to figure out but then only adds to the “why wasn’t this developed more” feel I was left with. Kimri certainly takes to it without a whole lot of questions.

The world building is interesting, Kimri’s journey towards maturity is well developed but the lack of emphasis on the romance and the confusion I felt as to the hero’s ultimate identity make this one a mixed grade that evens out to a C- grade.



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REVIEW:  Jack Absolute by CC Humpreys

REVIEW: Jack Absolute by CC Humpreys

“It’s 1777 when Captain Jack Absolute becomes a sensation throughout London. This news comes as a shock to the real Jack Absolute when he arrives in England after four months at sea. But there’s little time for outrage before he finds himself dueling for his life. Right when he thinks he’s finally won, he is forced to flee London by the quickest means possible, becoming a spy in the American Revolution. From the streets of London, to the pivotal battle of Saratoga, to a hunt for a double agent in Philadelphia, this novel marks the exhilarating beginning of an epic historical series and a character you won’t soon forget.”

Dear Mr. Humphreys,

When I initially saw first the cover of this book and then read the blurb for it, I immediately requested the arc from Netgalley. I adore books set in the 18th century and especially those set in the American Revolution – which seems to have fallen from favor over the past 10-15 years – or those that look as if they will be swashbuckler-ish. This book should have rung my bell in all the best ways. Unfortunately I find myself willing to put it aside for a number of reasons, many of which I acknowledge are personal and not the fault of the book.

Jack-AbsoluteI must have been scanning the blurb through rose colored glasses and reading into it what I wanted to find. What I was expecting of a hero described elsewhere as the “007 of the 1770s” was more romantic town-centered daring do-ish romp than what I found 1/3 of the way into the story. I thought the setting would be more in London and Philadelphia instead of on board ship and in the wilds of upstate New York. Jack is forced to flee London after a duel with a character who strikes me as one of these types who will dog Jack through the story. I use the verb “dog” for a reason as the man also comes off as a rabid OTT villain – a type I dislike and try to avoid in my reading. The fact that Jack has strong ties to the Mohawk tribe and can rough it better than some of the warriors of the tribe came as a surprise. It also brings into the story the tragic effect the War had on the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy. The rents in the fabric that would eventually split the Confederacy apart are mentioned early on and I just wasn’t up to watching this happen as I find it too depressing. I also wasn’t excited at the prospect of seeing the terrible way the war played out on the frontier. Though I have read books featuring it
( Independent Heart ) the tone here was feeling especially grim.

Another thing bothered me that I wasn’t expecting. Jack is obviously a British hero working on the side of the Crown. I knew that and was actually looking forward to seeing his side and POV on the war. Jack is intelligent, competent and has a high respect for the Colonials beside whom he fought in the French and Indian War. He wants to bring the Colonies back in the fold as brothers rather than scolded children. But he’s dismayed and handicapped by his fellow British officers and the Loyalists surrounding him. Despite being a patriotic American, I actually found myself sympathizing with the poor man as he was driven towards banging his head against a brick wall and tearing his hair out due to the incompetent and or drunken knobs with whom he was working. This aspect of the story seemed like it was going to do a number on my blood pressure.

The final nail in the coffin is a subplot dealing with a secret society. I hate secret societies. No, let me go further and say I loathe them as plot devices and avoid them if possible. It’s one reason I seldom read romantic suspense novels as they are often chock full of uber black ops groups. I did keep reading far past the point when the Illuminati are first mentioned but it gnawed at me each time they came up and finally I tossed in the towel.

At some future date, I might very well go back and attempt to finish this book. The writing is well done and the plot seems to be solid even if not to my taste. Some things would always bother me but perhaps the grimness might not be such a factor to me as it is now. Some personal issues in my life right now are leading me to put aside darker books for the time being – something that is certainly not the fault of this book. Readers interested in an intelligent and flawed anti-hero in a book set on the brutal frontier during the American Revolution need look no further.


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